‘We’ll finish well’ – Every word from Aston Villa’s Dean Smith on Spurs, Grealish rumours & McGinn #TottenhamFC

‘We’ll finish well’ – Every word from Aston Villa’s Dean Smith on Spurs, Grealish rumours & McGinn




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Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith addressed the media today ahead of Sunday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur.

What was on the agenda? Smith discussed those Jack Grealish links, Spurs, Jose Mourinho, John McGinn, and Valentine’s Day.

Here’s every word from the Villa boss.

Firstly, important matters – what are you doing on Valentine’s Day?

I’ll have to surprise my wife!

I can’t say on air. No, we’ll go out for a bite to eat that’s for sure.

Not catching Wolves vs Leicester?

No, I’ll Sky+ that!

Into the whole romance thing, then?

Haha! You’re putting me under massive pressure here. I hope all the other managers are put under pressure like this!

Of course, I’m married.

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Before you get any redder, let’s move on. How’s the team looking?

Obviously, since Bournemouth we’ve had a mini-break.

It’ll be the first time since it’s been done in England and I’ve certainly seen a positive side to it.

I feel my players and staff needed it. They all got five or six days off. Some of them coming back from injury had their own individual work to be done to make sure they maintain their fitness but it gave everyone a chance just to take five days away from the place to clear their heads.

I went to Rome for a romantic trip with my wife!

There you go! How important was the break? No warm-weather training?

We did look at that, going away for some warm weather training. We didn’t finish since the end of May last year and we started in June, then we don’t finish until the end of May.

It’s a long time to be together. Sometimes you have to look at them as human beings. They’ve got families, lives away from here.

You certainly need that space away from each other. It was nice to give them that time to get some sun on their back or, like me, go and walk 28 miles around Rome!

Any update on Borja Baston? Will he be involved?

Yes, certainly involved. Since he’s come in he’s trained well. He knows a couple of players anyway, Pepe Reina and Jota.

I’ve been really pleased with the training. It’s almost like the players needed that break to go and reflect, review and regenerate their batteries.

Training has been a really good standard and hopefully that’s a good sign for the 13-game run-in. We’ve got a third of the season left and we’re going to scrap and battle for every point.

How about the Keinan Davis injury?

Yes, part of his rehab was to go and get minutes for the under-23s and, unfortunately, he got a hamstring injury. It’s not as significant and not a recurrence of the old injury.

He’s light jogging already so hopefully he’ll be training the week leading up to the cup final.

What about John McGinn’s recovery?

He’s running on the AlterG at the moment (anti-gravity treadmill). Once he starts running fully on the grass I don’t think there will be much stopping him then.

John McGinn and Jack Grealish of Aston Villa

Once he’s on the grass he’ll be pain-free where he can run, jump and hop and do whatever he wants.

I’m sure he’ll be knocking on my door pretty soon after that saying I’m ready gaffer!

Could he be back for the cup final?

Any Premier League game, any cup game, any international game, he’ll be targeting.

He’s that sort of lad. He loves playing football and is eager to come back as soon as possible.

How do you feel about your current Premier League position?

If somebody said to me at the start of the season, with 13 games to go you’ll be out of the relegation zone. You’ll be in a cup final, you’ll have more wins than Arsenal I’d chop their hands off. It’s a tough league.

It’s very difficult to build consistency due to the quality of teams in there but we’re finding that consistency now. Consistency towards the end of the season is a great thing to have.

We had a big turnaround in the summer as everyone knows but they’re starting to gel. I’m starting to see green shoots of recovery from the players and a knowledge how everyone plays.

I think we’ll finish the season well.

How important was Samatta’s first goal?

Yeah, it was really important. It was a brave goal because he could have got clattered by the goalkeeper at Bournemouth. His overall game on the day was good, his hold-up play and movement, he caused the opposition problems.

Mbwana Samatta in action on his Premier League debut for Aston Villa, a 2-1 defeat to AFC Bournemouth in which he scored

He looked like a real understanding already in a short space of time.

Again, there’s an awful lot of potential there. He found the intensity of training a bit too much when he first came in but he’s got used to it now.

Steven Bergwijn got his first goal for Spurs, how big a role can he play?

He can play a massive role. It’s a different Spurs team so to speak to what we played at the start of the season because they’ve got a new head coach.

Obviously, Jose’s in there now. They’ll have different ideas to what Mauricio had. They’re without Harry Kane which is a big loss but they’ve got an awful lot of quality. They’ve got Son, Bergwijn, Lucas, they’ve got a lot of quality. They were Champions League finalists last year but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves.

I’ve said many times before, we’re the home team and our season will be defined by how we do at home with our fans behind us.

You came across Mourinho before!

Yes, I did. It was a mismatch. I was at Walsall and he brought a strong Chelsea team in the cup to the Banks’s Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Jose Mourinho

He had JT in his team at that time but, thankfully, I’ll have JT on mine now. I’ve been picking JT’s brain for the past 18 months.

They’re a team pushing for the Champions League.

What about the mindset of the players?

Players now do feel like they belong here. You have to have an understanding of the opposition. The big thing is about us. The home performances have been big of late.

If we can get our supporters rocking like they have been, we’ll be in a good place.

Speculation hasn’t stopped with Jack Grealish. Manchester United, Barcelona – have you spoken to him?

No, not at all. One week it’s Man United the other week it’s Barca or Real Madrid.

There’s always going to be speculation about top players. He is a top player but, thankfully, the window is shut and we don’t have to talk about it anymore.

Are you even thinking about the summer?

No, it’s obviously speculation. I can’t keep commenting on speculation about people.

How do you view the remaining fixtures?

On paper they look great fixtures! You’ve got two outstanding teams this season with Liverpool and Man City and the third best are Leicester at the moment.

Everybody else, it seems, you can have a good game against them. There’s points to go and fight for, we’re in a position where we’re not in the bottom three. It’s in our own hands.

There’s plenty of games to go and win.

That has to start on Sunday.



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